Viña del Mar is the most important holiday resort along the Chilean coast of the Pacific Ocean. The city is located 120 km from Santiago, and a few kilometers north of Valparaiso. Together with the latter city, it forms the most popular tourist area for Chileans.
The city was founded in the mid-nineteenth century and has since had a marked residential tourism development. It was soon connected by rail to Valparaiso and became a holiday resort for the rich local aristocracy. Today the city is known for its long beaches which attract tourists from Chile and other South American countries.
Viña del Mar is one of the most exclusive tourist resorts in Latin America, at the level of Punta del Este in Uruguay, and Mar del Plata in Argentina. The city is rich in tourist infrastructures, there are luxury hotels, casinos, yacht clubs, large green areas and vast beaches. The Garden City (La Ciudad Jardín) is nicknamed for its numerous and well-kept green spaces.
Viña del Mar is also home to an important international music festival (Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar) and an equally important film festival (Festival Internacional de Cine de Viña del Mar).
TOURIST ATTRACTIONS: WHAT TO VISIT IN VIÑA DEL MAR
The most important attractions of Viña del Mar are those related to seaside and cultural activities and nightlife. Among the most popular beaches, we find Playa Reñaca, Playa Las Salinas, Playa Acapulco, Playa 15 Norte and Playa Estero.
The most important commercial street of this holiday resort is the Avenida Valparaiso which starts from the central Plaza Vergara and is a succession of restaurants, bars, cafes and shops. The city is full of green areas and public gardens which, as already mentioned, have earned it the nickname of Garden City (La Ciudad Jardín).
EIGHTEENTH CENTURY BUILDINGS AND GARDENS
Another interesting attraction is the Parque Quinta Vergara, a large botanical garden that presents much of the Chilean flora. Inside there is the Palace Vergara, home of the museum of fine arts. The nineteenth-century building was the home of one of the most influential families in the town. There are antique furniture and other objects that make an idea of the luxury of the wealthy families of the time. In the park there is also an amphitheater where musical and singing events take place, including the famous international music festival (Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar).
Among the other cultural references of Viña del Mar, the Palacio Rioja, a building from the early twentieth century, which houses an environmental museum. The Fonck Museum is an interesting museum dedicated to archeology which presents an important collection of pre-Columbian finds, mainly of the Mapuche culture, and some artifacts, including a large Moai, from Easter Island.
The Palacio Carrasco, a beautiful building that belonged to an aristocratic family, now a national monument, is home to the Centro Cultural de Viña del Mar where there is a collection of photographs illustrating the history of the city. Other interesting buildings are located around the Plaza Vergara, including the Municipal Theater, the Club de Viña and the hotels O’Higgins and España.
Famous is the so-called Flower Clock (Reloj de Flores), which is located in front of the Caleta Abarca beach. Curious for its style, the Castillo Wulff, emblematic building of the early twentieth century, in neo-Tudor style. It was built at the behest of Don Gustavo Wulff Mowle, a businessman and philanthropist from Valparaiso.